Houston: Mark Kelly, the astronaut husband of
US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was gravely wounded in
the Tucson shooting rampage, says that he has never been a
deeply religious person, but the assassination attempt on his
wife has deepened his faith.
Paying a moving tribute to his wife and to the power of
faith during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington
yesterday, Kelly said Giffords, who was shot in the head last
month in a gun attack that left six other people dead, "gets a
little bit better" every day.
Urging the nation to keep her in its thoughts and prayers
because "it`s helping," Kelly, a NASA astronaut, said it was
only recently that he had become a "big believer" in faith and
expressed his hope that the tragedy would somehow contribute
to a greater good in the future.
"The neurosurgeons and neurologists tell me it (Giffords`
progress) is a great sign," he said. "The slope of that curve
is very important."
Acknowledging that the weeks following his wife`s
shooting had been "the hardest of my life," Kelly urged
Americans to help make "something good come of all this."
"The last month has been the hardest of my life and the
hardest time of my family`s life," he said. "We`re not the
only ones... The shooting has cost other families dearly.
Gabby`s community in Tucson, my community in Tucson, the
people of Tucson are suffering deeply - but suffering
Kelly is also weighing the tough decision of whether to
command his planned April space shuttle mission, or step down
to remain by his wife`s side.
Neither NASA nor Kelly have so far indicated which way
the decision will go, though NASA appointed veteran astronaut
Rick Sturckow to serve as a backup commander during training
for the STS-134 mission, which is the final flight of the
space shuttle Endeavour.
The mission is set to be launch on April 19.
Various signs, however, in recent days have increasingly
suggested that Kelly is likely to make the flight.
With almost three months of training still left before
his scheduled mission and Giffords` medical condition
improving steadily -- as Kelly has reported repeatedly -- the
46?year-old Navy captain and veteran of earlier shuttle
missions appears ready to go back to work, one of the people
familiar with the matter said. Kelly`s twin brother, Scott Kelly, is also an astronaut
and is currently serving a long-duration stint on board the
International Space Station`s Expedition 26 mission.
Scott Kelly told reporters on Wednesday that he had an
idea which way his brother was leaning, but that he`d leave it
to Mark and NASA to make the announcement.
"As far as him making a decision, I think we`ll hear
something about that soon," Scott Kelly said. "I know he needs
to certainly consult with NASA management on that. He`s a
pretty logical guy and very thoughtful and will certainly
weigh all the different considerations when making this
Scott Kelly said he and his brother had discussed the
tough call about the spaceflight, which will be Mark`s last
chance to fly again on a space shuttle since NASA`s
three-orbiter fleet retire this year.
Mark Kelly has already made three previous space shuttle
"We do talk about it and we have talked about the
different considerations," Scott Kelly said. "I`m confident
he`s going to make a good decision, and whichever decision he
chooses I`ll support him."